This isn’t over, not by a long shot. Jan. 6, 2021 was not the day time stopped; even though it may have felt that way. But it was a day when we were called to recognize something. Democracy is on a ventilator when people calling themselves patriots tear into the U.S. Capitol, waving white supremacist flags alongside the flag of this nation, vandalizing offices, reveling in the heady passions of riot, seeking to overturn an election in which more than 159 million Americans cast their votes.
It isn’t over, but it can be ended. The right way. America has come too far to go back into the night—the night of voter suppression, racism backed by terroristic threats and organizations, state-sponsored human degradation and licensed inequality. We can’t go back into the night because too many of us have seen what the light can bring. Justice. Opportunity. Security for our families. A government that works for the people who give it its power to govern. A society where we lift each other up.
Two years ago, I asked you, alongside the other students of this country, to speak your loudest, to go vote your conscience, to take a right that was hard won by generations before ours. I told you the world was watching our experiment in democracy. They still are.
We each have a duty, and a calling. It is the duty of free people to seek truth, to limit harm and to bear in trust all that we have been given for those who come after us. I trust our Sagehen community to be leaders in this time of trouble. To calm waters. To speak truth with love. To build trust. To earn it. To give freely to each other. To walk a path that will make our own children proud. Never to lose heart, and to hold on fiercely to each other as we seek a better day.
That better day is not so far away. Let’s move toward it together.